A Convalescence of the Human Spirit - Traumatic Disassociation and Balanced Skaters (BSP)
Okay... The title may seem like a bit much to describe a training program, but if you let me explain for a minute I believe that you will understand my viewpoint. However, also just be warned that this blog post gets a bit graphic at times. I have come through an extreme situation and to fully explain the personal importance of this program I must first explain the situation. I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to be completely candid about my physical problems or give the somewhat "disney-fied" version that I have been for the last five years. In my darkest time I took great solace in reading people’s honest stories and how they had dealt with them online. This is why I have chosen to spill the entire vivid truth however unsettling it may be.
It all started in June 2015. I was casually on my way to math tutoring when reality stabbed
me in the chest... Literally. I was getting cash for my math tutor when someone attempted to rob me and stabbed me in the chest with a concealed knife. This punctured my right lung and cut an intercostal artery. This is a good time to mention that I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico… Yeah Breaking Bad.
The way I generally tell this story is I say something like “I lost part of my right lung” or “I had an operation” but the truth is that I had a quarter of my body taken apart and put back together that night in a series of two surgeries and a bender of blood transfusions. I awoke the next morning with the worst hangover of my life to find oxygen tubes in my nose, two vacuum lines sewn into my back running to a bubbling bucket of god-knows-what, pins in two ribs that had been surgically broken and about a hundred staples holding fifteen inches worth of incisions together.
I was in fairly good shape before the stabbing and my recovery was perfectly on-track for the first six months. I even competed Colorado Springs Invitational and Adult Sectionals in the year after the stabbing.
Then came the storm...
The first of the ongoing health problems started subtly, a twinge here, a twitch there. Then came the scar-tissue fibrosis; a spreading of errant scar tissue that glued my ribs and scapula together over the course of two years while the twinges and twitches from nerve damage only got worse. At one point I actually couldn’t keep food down and my weight started dropping dangerously low.
During this period the thoughts that went through my head were the saddest I have ever experienced. Thoughts like “will I ever be on an airplane again” played like a broken record through my mind. Sometimes I could barely walk across a room or make it up a flight of stairs without being completely exhausted afterwards. During this whole time I never ever stopped working out, even if I had to crawl through my workout. I would often think of Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson saying “we must maintain standards” when he was trying to keep the abbey together during the First World War. This quote from the show actually became my mantra on my worst days. Skating was something that was simply gone. Every time I tried to lace up my skates I simply felt like a half-formed weakling trying to wear the costume of a former life... And not succeeding at all.
Traumatic Disassociation and Imposter Syndrome are absolutely real things. In my case the original traits of my personality had been thrown down a proverbial well so deep I couldn’t even hear them screaming for escape. My affectation had just become flat with overtones of extreme jealousy for more able-bodied people that came out sideways. Trying to keep this under control pretty much made me afraid of myself and added to my emotional repression.
Never damage private property over your feelings! This has been a public service announcement.
Enter the Balanced Skaters Program.
Now I have to confess that I didn’t sign up right away. Why? I was on the email list! It is not because I did not think the program was worth it... But because I didn’t think I was worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply wanted to subscribe and began looking for any excuse I could to justify it. Finally a dark night of the soul led me to RuPaul’s book. I was on page 38 when I suddenly had the perspective I needed to just act on my feelings instead of trying to interpret them. I double-clicked the safari icon, signed up that minute and didn’t look back!
Upon signing up my honest thought process was that even if I just had fun and it took my mind off of the pandemic it would be well worth the price. Ultimately I had been told by every doctor and therapist that my life was over and I was just the crazy boy refusing to believe any of it. The last thing I expected was to be proven right.
15 minutes into my first workout. I was almost done with fundamentals and I begin the v-sit when suddenly I felt a tremendous release in my spine. I assumed that I was fainting (another ongoing health problem) and lied back on the mat to let nature take its course. Stars filled the room but unconsciousness never came. My body had just realigned itself with a vengeance and I suddenly no longer felt dead inside. It was like someone had just painted over the pain and given me back my young body. And this was only 15 minutes into the first workout!! In the coming days and weeks all of the inflammation around the injuries disappeared and my metabolism asserted itself with a vengeance too.
In six months since I have started using the program I now have much more mobility than I did before the attack and I’m growing muscles in places I’ve never ever had muscles before. Not only am I back on the ice but my skating is drastically improved. I’m also getting compliments more than ever before too. Don’t get me wrong, it still takes a lot of work to manage my physical problems and it takes constant effort every day. But the important thing is now I can manage them! In addition to all of these functional pieces BSP has also brought back my personality with a new twist. I feel really positive about myself! It’s so nice to be able interact with old friends at the rink without being overwhelmed with feelings of jealousy.
I firmly believe that the Balanced Skaters team is creating something truly wonderful that has the capability to not only strengthen the body but to reconnect and heal the soul when it is needed. The lesson in this for me has been that if you are in chronic pain or have physical problems caused by an accident or trauma it is important to listen to doctors but there is no substitute for being trained by real professional athletes. And this platform makes this training accessible to everyone!
I wanted to share my story in hopes that showing how BSP had helped me would encourage other skaters to take the plunge and join. If any part of what I have said in the previous three paragraphs is appealing you should seriously consider going to www.balancedskaters.com and subscribing now! I promise you’re worth it.
About the Author: Joshua Coleman is a music educator and former applied behavior analysis therapist. He is also trained in special education, autism spectrum disorders and is an adult silver level figure skater.